What are feelings for?
Calvin Banyan has written an amazingly perceptive book using this title. I have had the privilege of working with him on various occasions in the USA and as a result have gained priceless insights into this fascinating subject, which I would like to share very briefly with you now.
The key questions are:
What Are Feelings For?
Are Some Feelings â€˜Good' And Are Other Feelings â€˜Bad'?
Here are my answers:
All feelings are useful - or should be. Think of them as a natural guidance system which we ignore invariably to our cost and sometimes at our peril.
Once acknowledged, our feelings can clearly tell us when our needs are being met - or not being met. Unmet needs provide a fertile breeding ground for ineffective, distractive responses, leading to potentially more serious future problems.
If we deal with our uncomfortable feelings inappropriately through unhealthy distraction, we create distress. For example, if we try to drown our sorrows in alcohol or escape them through â€˜recreational' mind-altering drugs, or excesses in work, or food, or sex, or fantasy, the relief we feel is only temporary and always illusory.
Typically, from our earliest days we pick up messages about our â€˜family-approved' ways to deal with our emotions and may then act out on them in this way forever after - without questioning either the â€˜rightness' of our actions or the inevitability of their negative consequences.
If we try to â€˜keep our cool' by suppressing our anger or denying our sadness, we build up pressure inside ourselves. This may express itself in everything from a headache to a panic attack, from a depleted immune system to a fatal heart attack.
That's why it's important never to ignore and always to acknowledge your feelings.
You Need An Action Plan!
This one may be simple, but it can initially be a challenge! It's always a 3 step process:
Identify the feeling.
Identify the cause: "My dog just died." "I got passed over for promotion." "I've got to stand up and make a speech."
Do something positive about it! After a decent period of grieving, consider giving another pet a good home. Analyse how fair or otherwise their promoting the other person really was. Ask for help from a speaker you admire or invest in "Bluff your way through Public Speaking."
In the film business, the Director says "Lights... Camera... Action!" This is similar. First you illuminate the problem. Then you focus on the cause. Then you do something appropriate, something effective. You don't ignore it or deny it - you confront it and cut it down to its right size. No bigger - and no smaller - than it is.
Reading this book will give you an insight into your feelings and help you to understand how important they are!
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